Who will speak for the People?

Several years ago, the Creative Center for Leadership, were resource trainers for the United Nations University / International Leadership Academy’s extended Leadership program.  Before the end of their session, the Vice Rector of the University who was acting as the Director of the Academy in Jordan called for an appraisal of the trainers.  The students condemned in totally the style, depth and materials of the Center, when asked, mine was at variance.   I opined that we experience the British / Oxford Templeton College Team before crucifying the Americans, thanks to my Nigerian British style education and the Sheraton American Style trainings.   The class judged better when the two were compared.

Nigeria’s Masses cried during Late Yaradua’s time and Kerosine and Petrol were pegged to N50 and N65 per litre, the Nigeria Police stopped collecting toll fees on the road, the Military were struggling for United Nations Missions. Why was that, because somebody spoke for the down trodden and they were considered favourably.

We have reached a very disturbing cross road and yes there is need for the iron curtains to be pieced so Presidents and their Vice can be on the same page with the electorate/masses. 

How can you truly explain the reason why Fulanis who were known for grazing their cattle peacefully out of sight, now are everywhere as petty traders, tailors, motor bike riders et al, you ask them why, they tell you Cattle Robbers have stolen their cows and refused them peace in the bush.  What has the Government done to return them to their status quo?  Ask me.  Then who are the cattle owners that the National Assembly is always talking of Graze Land or Ranch bill for?  It is definitely not the poor fulani’s who now do not even have the cows to breed.    From the President, who we know has cows in his asset declaration to the likes of the Governors of Ekiti and Kwara, and their likes, are the graze land seekers (not the masses) this is maybe to further galvanise more lands to a few in every nuke and crannies of Nigeria?   When the poor fulanis were grazing we did not have sophisticated weapons and burning of villages, there was symbiotic coexistence with farmers allowing cattle rearers on lands needing manure.  So where did all this violence come from and why now?  Even the fulanis in the bush suffer kidnappings and destruction of lives and properties by these people causing havoc in our land.

The African / Nigerian Press is so muzzled that if you go counter the rulership you are made a black sheep.  And because they are first a business and want to have a green bank accounts and not red;  The Governors and leaders now have praise singers and not a true representation of the realities on ground.

Buhari’s getting a Christian Vice, was because he listened to suggestions.  His suspension of the NIA Chief and SGF was because he listened to the out cry of his people.  The Chibok Girls, Boko Haram and many others are all because he listened.  But how can he hear correctly, when he is surrounded by a very thick iron curtain of the AGIP machinery of power brokers that only have their interest in front and not the electorate?

Shehu Sani suffered his persecutions and is still, they have looked for all ways possible to ground him, including suspension from Kaduna chapter of the party to no avail.

El-Zakhy Zaky, is one person I have known from my days in ABU Zaria to be a forthright person, who government monies can’t buy.  The politicians go to him to canvass from votes, which his supporters give them.  How do I know, all politicians do and I have also benefitted from such vote support, without which no politician can have a comfortable win, unless rigged.  This man has followers in villages unexpected and he cares for the followers more than the elected governors.  If you remember, when the child marrying Governor of Zamfara brought in Sharia during the Obasanjo’s tenure, El-Zahky Zaky was about an only voice that said, it wont succeed. He was criticized for being anti-Islamic.  In his defence, he mentioned the insincerity of the promoters and their using it for political intent and not true religion.  Was he proved right?  You tell me.  The same Zamfara officials were known in Abuja as the highest users of hotels and restaurants.  They bring ladies in droves, shagalinku restaurant (and the like) will be fully booked at breakfast, lunch and dinner times, when the Zamfara harems come to eat.  Zaria’s religious peaceful stay cannot be without the synergy of such religious leaders and the Traditional Houses in the city and the environ.

Bishop Oyedepo – who mentioned the need to defend yourself against any provocation by any group, is not unfamiliar with the antiques of persons using religion, tribe or regions to foment trouble. His Ministry was started in Kaduna and he has a very large followership in Kaduna and the North.  Some of his places of worship suffered bombings like the one in Bauchi, North East.

Apostle Johnson Suleman – Who re echoed the defend yourselves song and was termed provocation.   He became a target when he warned El-Rufai of the Preaching License, he wanted to enforce in kaduna State.  His trouble increased when the DSS was barred from arresting him by the Governor of Ekiti and Eminent Christian Leaders Escorted him to Abuja.  Getting to discredit his ministry and calling came as an aftermath.

The Emir of Zaria, who mentioned a political variance in favour of a crowned title holder (the former Governor).  Demolition inside the city was to spite the Emir; Zaria and Kaduna Traditional Houses started seeing the unseen, including locking of a traditional ruler for weeks in prison custody.

While Kebbi is working with Lagos, the Central Bank and Bank of Industries amongst others to further Agricultural synergy, Zamfara is stigmatizing the people with curse instead of vaccinating and treating them against deadly diseases in the state.

I reside in a state where you hear men saying, marrying one wife is like being single.  A gardener was added N5000.00 to his salary, to my surprise he added a wife, I asked why and how will he maintain them, in a chorus, i was told God will feed all who He gave mouths to.    Cases abound of parents who do not know where their children sleep, eat or play and are not disturbed about that.  They end up as political thugs, so the learned politicians are not bothered because their children are learning abroad and will hope the children of these masses serve their children like the parent did the fathers.

Boko Haram has not finished, it was started by politicians, Cattle rustlings is yet to be stopped, villages being ravaged and so many innocent blood lettings still abound.  From the Zamfara axis to the Ile –Ife and the East every case shows an unbalance that Nigerian politicians are not ready for the truth.

In all cases people who speak or stood against some persons are placed on a pedestal of disgrace, after warning them in some cases.

The Sultan and Emir of Kano did us proud in Kaduna, because some body needs to tell them.  Kaduna is the Power Seat of the North, Kaduna is home for all we accept, but the Gbagis that have suffered displacements from Zaria, Kaduna, Minna and Abuja deserve a better treatment for the kits and kins than what they are experiencing in the name of someone is in charge.  

During the KADINVEST, i see the peaceful loving nature of this people, it wont happen in terrain like we are seeing in Kaduna.  Kaduna for the exigencies of Politics is under the purview of the Emir of Zaria, who is the Traditional head of the State Traditional houses.   The Government invited the Emir of Kano without the presence of any Traditional Ruler from Kaduna.  The Sultan was invited, he stands as a Islamic Religious Leader and their was no thought of inviting a Christian Leader to also be in attendance.  Am sure the likes of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, who is the present Bishop of Sokoto would have been a good accompaniment of the Sultan (they have severally), Kukah is from Kaduna State El-Rufai was not ready for what the Bishop would have mentioned maybe.

So for many silenced mouths, in and out of prisons for saying what some politicians do not want to hear, the Emir of Kano and his likes should not stay quiet. 

Now is not the time to use the usual old antiques to silence people, our politicians should be more responsive and responsible to the electorate.  As electorates, we need to disturb the National Assembly to remove certain privileges leading to abuses and give the electorate the power to recall their elected officers, when they see them not responsible enough.  That will keep our leaders on their toes to the needful for the enhancement of their constituents.

Let the speakers keep speaking and the silent ones should join speaking.  I long to see the State Assemblies stop singing the Governors sing songs and start acting like Honourable.  I long to see the State Houses call their Governors to order in especially the case of Local Government Elections, so people can feel the Government more and have easy access to the officials.

Advertisements

Democratic Mistakes–The falls of Titans.

The rise of any kingdom is much more easier than the stabilization and fall.  The medical death of an animal might still have biologically living organs or tissues that can be harvested for transplant or research.  Painfully popular Presidencies have been lost to the headiness of the candidates and the less openness of the advisory team executing the campaigns.  I have seen two in recent times, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria and the Democrats in the United States.

In Nigeria, parties are along Power cabal lines than philosophical.  So the emergence of the Peoples Democratic Party was by the power brokers that needed a way to keep the Military from interference and solve the issue of the Chief Abiola, June 12 saga.  So the ease of access by Rtd Gen. Obasanjo in 1999 had the least of resistance.  The honey moon continued amidst the usual back stabbings and betrayals that is so eminent in Africa’s politics.   President Obasanjo’s handing over to Yaradua was not without it’s internal bickering, but Obasanjo had the cabal retired Military either silent or on his side.  Having ruled the nation for a long time their relevance is still yet to wane.

The death of Yaradua brought in Goodluck Jonathan, who seemed to always be a deputy that takes over from his Principal after some issue or the other.  Whether it was by default or manipulated, time and maybe his memoirs might tell us.  But that Zoology Professor, showed some un-readiness for the seat and rumours of his mistresses and wife being the Black Popes were not uncommon.    Jonathan’s greatest error was not being in direct touch with the people on the ground.   He was covered by the Aso realm that reality was taken far from his reach.  That might remind you of Abacha and the Mallams syndrome.  For example, a bomb explored in the North East with International Red Cross and USAID agencies reaching out to see how they can help, while the then President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria was watching a Command football performance, with serving Presidents from some African Countries and celebrities in another Southern state of Akwa Ibom.   The only time Goodluck saw it fit to visit the North East was during the ending days of the campaign, another grievous mistake.

Goodluck had issues with a number of his people, party persons and he just wont bulge? Obasanjo had to make public some letters sent to the President, causing quiet some unease for all, especially those close to the two. 

The selection of candidates to compete was not what any will call transparent as persons were not willing to face the wrath of the incumbent or be seen as not politically correct.  So having Goodluck and Buhari, was not so different than the Abiola vs Tofa elections though tougher.

Jonathan, left the hands that fed him and raised his electoral machinery of person wanting a bite of the National cake.  So the colossal funds raised, stolen and shared for campaigns only ended in peoples Farms, Toilet Soak a ways and water tanks, but not the electorates.   Campaign projects, done to showcase a sense presence in communities, were only heard in the news and not realities on ground.  Did Jonathan foresee his failing in the elections?  No, because that was actually his very first true elections, others were mere give aways. 

Could he have done it differently?  Yes, the ending game he employed in the North East would have been employed a year earlier, before the heating up of the campaigns.  He had a good followership in the Middle Belt, South South and South East.  He would have done much better in the other regions like the North Central, North West, North East and South West.  Though the elections was along party lines, but all knew that tribe, region and religion played their roles.  He would have been wise to get a deputy that was accepted by the North and not one that was rumoured to be from the south south and unable to recite the Quran.

Nigeria has still not learnt it’s lessons, as the incumbent might be facing the same forces that brought him in, bring in another person to power come 2019, unless Nigerians start seeing a people oriented change.   If you ask me, what Nigeria needs is not another mega – party, we need to start politics along Ideological divides, let us have issue driven political parties and not cabal -ization of power brokers.

Hilary Clinton, took the world by storm, when she came out for the Senate seat, she was everywhere and with everyone.  From Abuja, we received her emails engaging the electorates with their concerns and her intentions to address those concerns.  Her entre was glorious, but she made the mistake of not following up to develop her success for greater success.

Like Goodluck, Hillary had the good will of the incumbency to her favour, but what we did not see very glaring was the engagement of her Husband.  If you will recall, Obama was almost doing the same mistake, not engaging Bill Clinton during his campaigns, till the very end when the race was very tough, it was reported that Bill Clinton was on the Phone for a very long time call the many he could.  The report alone encouraged a lot of Bill Clinton sympathisers to vote Obama.  During Elections you need every resource.   We saw Bill Clinton sparingly and issues upon issues being raised were swept under the carpet.  Issue like the Pro – Lifers; LGBT; Evangelicals; Unemployment issues and Immigrants; Militant Islamism and American Policies.  These are issues that are so sensitive in America and should have been given a more careful treatment than was.

Why writing now?  Gambia has moved to the Opposition, Ghana is on the verge of another Elections, what should we expect?  It is my prayers that we will have a free and fair elections.  While wishing the best person for Ghana to win, It is my hope also that such a person will address the issues of Unemployment and Corruption that we hear cries of in Ghana.  This is an important economy that needs to be in the right for the benefit of the sub region and Africa as a whole.  God bless the people of Africa with leaders that are Africans at heart.  Happy elections Ghana.

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

clip_image001

Nigeria is currently engulfed in a major crisis of intergroup relations that is rooted in the politics of economic survival but which is often easily exploited by the elite. 

The latest theatre of such madness is in the Northwest state of Zamfara where towns and villages are attacked, almost on a daily basis, by armed bandits while the vigilante groups brought in by the helpless communities to help restore order are either being exterminated or are themselves engaging in extra judicial killings. 

With villages being deserted and a growing resort to self-help in the face of what looks like organized crime, there are serious threats to our national economy and security that many Nigerians are not paying adequate attention to.

The violence in Zamfara State is particularly difficult for “outsiders” to understand, especially when the people many of us had always assumed to be one and the same are now killing one another. 

That perhaps explains why most of the reportage of the orgy of bloodletting, essentially between the Hausa and Fulani peoples of Zamfara State, is by the foreign media. 

But the more I probe into the bloody crisis, the more it reveals the complexities of our country and how simplistic some of the assumptions that drive the political agitations in Abuja are.

In a series of attacks that started in 2011 before it exploded in the last one year, no fewer than 48 people were recently killed in one single attack after the marauders entered a village called Kizara before dawn, riding on motorbikes. 

“There was an attack by armed bandits on Kizara village where 48 residents were killed in apparent targeted killings by cattle rustlers that have been terrorising the state for some time now,” said Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magajia, a Zamfara State government official who spoke to AFP. 

An eye witness confirmed that the murderers “later moved house to house, telling residents that they were looking for members of local vigilante (groups) whom they said had been disturbing them.”

To compound the problem is the total neglect by the Zamfara state government to build basic transport and communication infrastructure in the conflict areas; a situation that has made law enforcement and maintenance of security extremely difficult. 

As a result, the area has virtually become a haven for all manner of hoodlums with the attendant rise in crime rates, characterized by frequent armed robberies, mostly targeted at local wealthy Hausa traders and cattle rustling for which Fulani herders are primary targets.

I understand that the violence actually started late in 2011 in Lingyado village of Dansadau District but it was in 2012 that the situation went out of control when 52 persons, mostly Vigilantes mobilized to protect the community, were killed, assassination style, in Zurmi, sending fears to many of the residents who had to flee with their families and cattle. 

In 2014, specifically on 7th April, 112 victims of one of such attacks in Yar Galadima village, Maru Local Government, were buried. 

The state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who led a delegation to the burial rites promised that the culprits would be apprehended and brought to justice but those were empty words.

According to the residents who claimed more than 200 people were actually killed in that attack, the attackers came on motorcycles at midday, during a meeting of people from the village and other surrounding communities to plot strategies on how to curb the incessant attacks. 

“They came on motorcycles and opened fire on the people who were gathered at the venue of the meeting, killing many instantly,” a resident, Mohammad Yargaladima, told Channels Television.

I have in the last week spoken to top politicians and civil servants (retired and serving) in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States and what they tell me about the violence sounds like tales out of horror movies. 

The bandits in Zamfara operate in such a brazen manner that they now send letters ahead to targeted communities to expect them, with instructions that their would-be-victims keep large sums of money at home. 

They would state the amount they were coming to collect from each household and woe betides those who are “stupid” enough to default when the bandits visit. 

These brutal assassins are reputed for killing husbands in the presence of his wife and sometimes they wipe out entire families.

In kizara village of Tsafe Local Government, the military troops stationed there was recently withdrawn because of lack of feeding allowance and two days after, the bandits attacked, killing more than 50 people. 

Such is the nature of criminality that it would seem the security agencies have been overwhelmed. 

For instance, while the military operation is now primarily focused on Dansadau-Mgani axis in Maru local government, the killings in Zurmi-Birnin Magaji-Shinkafi areas have also heightened in recent weeks.

What compounds the problem now is that it has extended to neighbouring states. 

On 10th August this year, while receiving the newly promoted AIG Zone 10 in Sokoto, Governor Aminu Tambuwal raised alarm over the influx of bandits from Zamfara into his state. 

He said the people inhabiting local governments in Sokoto that neighbour Zamfara now have their cattle rustle every day. But what is the way out?

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-based Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) in collaboration with some development partners recently held a seminar on the farmer/pastoralist conflicts ravaging communities across Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara States. 

In his paper at the seminar, the Executive Director of CEDDERT, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, popularly called ASM, attributed the recent killings to the ill-advised decision of the Zamfara government to clear the large forest and cattle grazing reserves in a section of the state after which the same plots of land were allocated to senior government officials and politicians.

However, my investigations reveal that this most egregious looting of public resources, by way of converting a Forest Reserve to farmlands and sharing the plots among cronies, started with the former Governor (now Senator) Ahmad Sani Yerima. 

The policy has resulted in the dislocation of thousands of Fulani hamlets between Dansadau area and Maradun – Zurmi axes. 

These were said to be communities that had been in existence for over 500 years. 

The dislocation of these Fulani herders and their livestock was believed to have sparked spontaneous mass movements of human beings and cattle into other neighbouring communities and states in the central and southern zones of the country with the attendant consequence in conflicts with farmers being ignited along their flight paths.

While I intend to dig more on this crisis that has serious national security implications, there is no doubt that the failure of the Zamfara state government to take necessary measures has encouraged various local communities to resort to self-help, thus exacerbating the problem. 

Parallel vigilante groups known as “Yan Banga” and “Yan Sa Kai” have emerged in several villages within the state with their members usurping the role of law enforcement agencies. 

In recent weeks, members of these two vigilante groups have assumed the sole responsibility of defining, identifying and arresting alleged criminals and executing them without recourse to law courts and other constituted authorities.

Incidentally, on 14th July this year President Muhammadu Buhari personally attended the launching of a military offensive code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama” in Dansadau forest to battle the cow rustlers. 

Instructively, he wore a military fatigue on that occasion perhaps to send a message but that does not seem to have moved the bandits one bit. 

As recently as the Sallah day last week, several communities witnessed fresh deadly outbreak of hostilities between the two warring groups–Hausa and Fulani–leading to the death of unspecified number of people in the Dan Gulbi and Magami areas of Dansadau-Maru local governments.

While we must prevent a situation in which the conflict escalates into a more sinister conflagration that may, like the Boko Haram menace, overwhelm the Northwest zone of the country, the crisis is also a reflection of the failure of both the traditional and political authorities in Zamfara. 

On the political front, almost everybody from Zamfara State that I have spoken with describe Mr. Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari as an absentee governor who hardly spends up to one week within a month in Zamfara. 

Incidentally, the governor had been away to Saudi Arabia for several days while the killings continued only to return at the weekend to join President Buhari’s team to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

I will enjoin the governor to stay more at home to deal with the challenge facing his people.

However, beyond the government, the traditional authority in Zamfara State should also brace up because there is so much that they can do. 

In a February 2013 piece titled “The Fulani-Farmers Conflicts in Nasarawa State: The Ecology Population and Politics”, Murtala Adogi Mohammed, after a brilliant analysis of what he described as a “Natural Resources Conflict” recommended the “Yauri Model” which may be worth examining by the authorities in Zamfara State.

According to Mohammed, upon his installation, the Emir of Yauri in Kebbi State, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, helped to establish many professional and tribal associations which were then encouraged to elect their chairpersons. 

“The different chairs elected one representative as member to the Emirate Council. 

“A conflict resolution mechanism was set up at three levels: Low level committee, comprising of village head, Fulani and farmer leaders. 

“They can resolve the issue at their level, mostly by mediation and payment of compensation; Middle level committee, comprising District Head, Sarkin Fulani and branch chair of the Farmers Association. 

“Very few issues pass this level without being resolved.

“Even if the issue is with the police or court, the committee can achieve an out-of-court settlement.”

If and when these mechanisms fail, according to Mohammed, the matter would then go to the “High level committee, comprising His Royal Highness the Emir of Yauri, the Galadima and other members of the Emirate Council. 

“The verdict here is final and the conflicting parties must adhere to it. Since the establishment of this mechanism, farmers, fisher folk and pastoralists have been living peacefully with one another. 

“The committees are multi-purpose and it resolves all forms of conflict, not just farmer-herder issues.”

Although it may appear to be a crisis localized within a few local government areas in Zamfara State, the killings and displacement of innocent villagers now abandoned to their fate not only have serious security implications, they are a scar on our collective conscience as a nation.

A Conscious Life

I was in Lagos yesterday for the public presentation of ‘A Conscious Life’ written by Mrs Funmi Oyetunji, a chartered accountant and investment banker, at an impressive ceremony chaired by the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II. 

My review of the book is published on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com, where new materials have been uploaded. 

Meanwhile, there is also a notice on the web portal about the 2016 edition of the Pastor Poju Oyemade-inspired ‘Platform Nigeria’ coming up, as usual, on 1st October.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

clip_image001

Nigeria is currently engulfed in a major crisis of intergroup relations that is rooted in the politics of economic survival but which is often easily exploited by the elite. 

The latest theatre of such madness is in the Northwest state of Zamfara where towns and villages are attacked, almost on a daily basis, by armed bandits while the vigilante groups brought in by the helpless communities to help restore order are either being exterminated or are themselves engaging in extra judicial killings. 

With villages being deserted and a growing resort to self-help in the face of what looks like organized crime, there are serious threats to our national economy and security that many Nigerians are not paying adequate attention to.

The violence in Zamfara State is particularly difficult for “outsiders” to understand, especially when the people many of us had always assumed to be one and the same are now killing one another. 

That perhaps explains why most of the reportage of the orgy of bloodletting, essentially between the Hausa and Fulani peoples of Zamfara State, is by the foreign media. 

But the more I probe into the bloody crisis, the more it reveals the complexities of our country and how simplistic some of the assumptions that drive the political agitations in Abuja are.

In a series of attacks that started in 2011 before it exploded in the last one year, no fewer than 48 people were recently killed in one single attack after the marauders entered a village called Kizara before dawn, riding on motorbikes. 

“There was an attack by armed bandits on Kizara village where 48 residents were killed in apparent targeted killings by cattle rustlers that have been terrorising the state for some time now,” said Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magajia, a Zamfara State government official who spoke to AFP. 

An eye witness confirmed that the murderers “later moved house to house, telling residents that they were looking for members of local vigilante (groups) whom they said had been disturbing them.”

To compound the problem is the total neglect by the Zamfara state government to build basic transport and communication infrastructure in the conflict areas; a situation that has made law enforcement and maintenance of security extremely difficult. 

As a result, the area has virtually become a haven for all manner of hoodlums with the attendant rise in crime rates, characterized by frequent armed robberies, mostly targeted at local wealthy Hausa traders and cattle rustling for which Fulani herders are primary targets.

I understand that the violence actually started late in 2011 in Lingyado village of Dansadau District but it was in 2012 that the situation went out of control when 52 persons, mostly Vigilantes mobilized to protect the community, were killed, assassination style, in Zurmi, sending fears to many of the residents who had to flee with their families and cattle. 

In 2014, specifically on 7th April, 112 victims of one of such attacks in Yar Galadima village, Maru Local Government, were buried. 

The state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who led a delegation to the burial rites promised that the culprits would be apprehended and brought to justice but those were empty words.

According to the residents who claimed more than 200 people were actually killed in that attack, the attackers came on motorcycles at midday, during a meeting of people from the village and other surrounding communities to plot strategies on how to curb the incessant attacks. 

“They came on motorcycles and opened fire on the people who were gathered at the venue of the meeting, killing many instantly,” a resident, Mohammad Yargaladima, told Channels Television.

I have in the last week spoken to top politicians and civil servants (retired and serving) in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States and what they tell me about the violence sounds like tales out of horror movies. 

The bandits in Zamfara operate in such a brazen manner that they now send letters ahead to targeted communities to expect them, with instructions that their would-be-victims keep large sums of money at home. 

They would state the amount they were coming to collect from each household and woe betides those who are “stupid” enough to default when the bandits visit. 

These brutal assassins are reputed for killing husbands in the presence of his wife and sometimes they wipe out entire families.

In kizara village of Tsafe Local Government, the military troops stationed there was recently withdrawn because of lack of feeding allowance and two days after, the bandits attacked, killing more than 50 people. 

Such is the nature of criminality that it would seem the security agencies have been overwhelmed. 

For instance, while the military operation is now primarily focused on Dansadau-Mgani axis in Maru local government, the killings in Zurmi-Birnin Magaji-Shinkafi areas have also heightened in recent weeks.

What compounds the problem now is that it has extended to neighbouring states. 

On 10th August this year, while receiving the newly promoted AIG Zone 10 in Sokoto, Governor Aminu Tambuwal raised alarm over the influx of bandits from Zamfara into his state. 

He said the people inhabiting local governments in Sokoto that neighbour Zamfara now have their cattle rustle every day. But what is the way out?

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-based Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) in collaboration with some development partners recently held a seminar on the farmer/pastoralist conflicts ravaging communities across Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara States. 

In his paper at the seminar, the Executive Director of CEDDERT, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, popularly called ASM, attributed the recent killings to the ill-advised decision of the Zamfara government to clear the large forest and cattle grazing reserves in a section of the state after which the same plots of land were allocated to senior government officials and politicians.

However, my investigations reveal that this most egregious looting of public resources, by way of converting a Forest Reserve to farmlands and sharing the plots among cronies, started with the former Governor (now Senator) Ahmad Sani Yerima. 

The policy has resulted in the dislocation of thousands of Fulani hamlets between Dansadau area and Maradun – Zurmi axes. 

These were said to be communities that had been in existence for over 500 years. 

The dislocation of these Fulani herders and their livestock was believed to have sparked spontaneous mass movements of human beings and cattle into other neighbouring communities and states in the central and southern zones of the country with the attendant consequence in conflicts with farmers being ignited along their flight paths.

While I intend to dig more on this crisis that has serious national security implications, there is no doubt that the failure of the Zamfara state government to take necessary measures has encouraged various local communities to resort to self-help, thus exacerbating the problem. 

Parallel vigilante groups known as “Yan Banga” and “Yan Sa Kai” have emerged in several villages within the state with their members usurping the role of law enforcement agencies. 

In recent weeks, members of these two vigilante groups have assumed the sole responsibility of defining, identifying and arresting alleged criminals and executing them without recourse to law courts and other constituted authorities.

Incidentally, on 14th July this year President Muhammadu Buhari personally attended the launching of a military offensive code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama” in Dansadau forest to battle the cow rustlers. 

Instructively, he wore a military fatigue on that occasion perhaps to send a message but that does not seem to have moved the bandits one bit. 

As recently as the Sallah day last week, several communities witnessed fresh deadly outbreak of hostilities between the two warring groups–Hausa and Fulani–leading to the death of unspecified number of people in the Dan Gulbi and Magami areas of Dansadau-Maru local governments.

While we must prevent a situation in which the conflict escalates into a more sinister conflagration that may, like the Boko Haram menace, overwhelm the Northwest zone of the country, the crisis is also a reflection of the failure of both the traditional and political authorities in Zamfara. 

On the political front, almost everybody from Zamfara State that I have spoken with describe Mr. Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari as an absentee governor who hardly spends up to one week within a month in Zamfara. 

Incidentally, the governor had been away to Saudi Arabia for several days while the killings continued only to return at the weekend to join President Buhari’s team to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

I will enjoin the governor to stay more at home to deal with the challenge facing his people.

However, beyond the government, the traditional authority in Zamfara State should also brace up because there is so much that they can do. 

In a February 2013 piece titled “The Fulani-Farmers Conflicts in Nasarawa State: The Ecology Population and Politics”, Murtala Adogi Mohammed, after a brilliant analysis of what he described as a “Natural Resources Conflict” recommended the “Yauri Model” which may be worth examining by the authorities in Zamfara State.

According to Mohammed, upon his installation, the Emir of Yauri in Kebbi State, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, helped to establish many professional and tribal associations which were then encouraged to elect their chairpersons. 

“The different chairs elected one representative as member to the Emirate Council. 

“A conflict resolution mechanism was set up at three levels: Low level committee, comprising of village head, Fulani and farmer leaders. 

“They can resolve the issue at their level, mostly by mediation and payment of compensation; Middle level committee, comprising District Head, Sarkin Fulani and branch chair of the Farmers Association. 

“Very few issues pass this level without being resolved.

“Even if the issue is with the police or court, the committee can achieve an out-of-court settlement.”

If and when these mechanisms fail, according to Mohammed, the matter would then go to the “High level committee, comprising His Royal Highness the Emir of Yauri, the Galadima and other members of the Emirate Council. 

“The verdict here is final and the conflicting parties must adhere to it. Since the establishment of this mechanism, farmers, fisher folk and pastoralists have been living peacefully with one another. 

“The committees are multi-purpose and it resolves all forms of conflict, not just farmer-herder issues.”

Although it may appear to be a crisis localized within a few local government areas in Zamfara State, the killings and displacement of innocent villagers now abandoned to their fate not only have serious security implications, they are a scar on our collective conscience as a nation.

A Conscious Life

I was in Lagos yesterday for the public presentation of ‘A Conscious Life’ written by Mrs Funmi Oyetunji, a chartered accountant and investment banker, at an impressive ceremony chaired by the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II. 

My review of the book is published on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com, where new materials have been uploaded. 

Meanwhile, there is also a notice on the web portal about the 2016 edition of the Pastor Poju Oyemade-inspired ‘Platform Nigeria’ coming up, as usual, on 1st October.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

Ondo Elections 2016.

If you served in Ondo State and did not enjoy your stay, raise your hand?  I bet you the number will be in the minority.  Space will not allow me to mention the joys of being amongst the wonderful, beautiful and peace loving people of Ondo State, irrespective of location, rural or urban.  The memories of Compatriots like Mohammed Sada from Katsina State, Bubemi Pesu, Tony Akhigbe, Femi, Toyin Ajayi, Chigozie Oguine, Kenneth, Ama Agbiji, Nkem, Ochi, Akin, Femi Akintunde Johnson (FAJ), Bidemi, Ramatu, Ms Florence Ahmed, John Daniel, Samson Wakili, Friday, the list goes on.  It will not over Shadow, the likes of High Chief Seinde Arogbofa and the staff of the then Army Comprehensive High School, the late Col Daramola’s family, the R.O. Maxwells (A Mother in Israel), my very own Funmi nee Maxwell (My Sister in Israel). The Wole Adamolekuns, still a mentor, Omoboya NYSC Mama with Mr Atilola’s (Adamu daku ma damu mi) to cover for all my Directors and staff of NYSC.  The Ondo State NYSC Drama Troupe (we need a reunion) and the Ondo State Christian Corpers Fellowship’s Musical Group amidst others are very fresh memories on the platter of my mind.  God will richly bless and remember all those who have laboured to make visitors at home, for no seemingly outward reward.

I am specially remembering my Mother, she taught me in primary one, became a Guardian during my youth corps and now the Wonderful Grand Mother of my Children, with My Father(Rest Well Daddy), he has been like a guiding light and his words echoing and re echoing especially in times of need.  The Ilemobade’s have my Eternal Gratitude for making Ondo a place I can justifiably also call home.  My Oye Lawrence, Sarki, Ayuba (army officers), Sankara, et al and the one that made me an NYSC Guitar boy, by allowing me use his guitar, the then State Police Public Relations Officer Mr Tonye Wakama, thank you again.  I am talking elections, forgive me, that is what happens when you say Ondo.

Elections in Ondo/Ekiti (then Ondo State), were never a child’s play, the relics of violence covered the state during our time, late Col Daramola, the then Chair of the Electoral Commission, told us not to worry.  Ondo people only react when pushed to the wall or when the truth is being denied them. 

As Elections draw close, you see the forming, amending and destroying of alliances, is for want of  fair play.   My prayer for this wonderful State that is the Spiritual Trigger of the Continent, is for the peaceful election of the right persons that will continue in the upgrade of Ondo to be a leading state in Nigeria and Africa. 

Forgive my selling fish (Selfish).  The Bitumen in Ondo can sufficiently make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity to Africa and the World.  The Ondo Cocoa farms, if well harnessed can make Ivory Coast a secondary exporter of the Chocolate Juice. The Igbokoda Glass factory, can halt our Chinese imports of glasses and china wares.  The best way to decongest the Lagos – Ibadan/Ore roads is the Lagos – Okitikupa water ways.   I am told that the Sapele Water & Palm Wine from the Ode-Aye Okitikupa axis, ‘fit make mallam forget say na from Zamfara e come from’.  Na one corper tell me ooh.

Seriously, Ondo State is like the Turkey of Nigeria and deserves the very best in this electioneering season.  So what have I been saying?  It is time for Ondo people to forget, Party, region or creed and vote for capable hands that can change the status of this regional power.  X-ray the candidates and avoid the Hilary/Trump saga that reminds me of the Abiola/Tofa thing.  If non of the candidates is good enough, do the Lagos thing and get the Ondo Fashola and Ambode to come out and join.  Now that global challenges are not getting any less, it is time to bring out your jokers for the days ahead.

We will not be left out, our Knees are still bent in prayers and God will hear us.  Ondo must rise to champion the development that will transcend to Oshun, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Nigeria and the Continent at large.  That is a vision I saw in 1987/88 and the time for fulfilment has just begun.  Arise my dear People at home and abroad and Lead from this your humble peaceful abode.  May we have a peaceful, free and fair elections.  God bless Nigerians and then Nigeria. 

Ondo Elections 2016.

If you served in Ondo State and did not enjoy your stay, raise your hand?  I bet you the number will be in the minority.  Space will not allow me to mention the joys of being amongst the wonderful, beautiful and peace loving people of Ondo State, irrespective of location, rural or urban.  The memories of Compatriots like Mohammed Sada from Katsina State, Bubemi Pesu, Tony Akhigbe, Femi, Toyin Ajayi, Chigozie Oguine, Kenneth, Ama Agbiji, Nkem, Ochi, Akin, Femi Akintunde Johnson (FAJ), Bidemi, Ramatu, Ms Florence Ahmed, John Daniel, Samson Wakili, Friday, the list goes on.  It will not over Shadow, the likes of High Chief Seinde Arogbofa and the staff of the then Army Comprehensive High School, the late Col Daramola’s family, the R.O. Maxwells (A Mother in Israel), my very own Funmi nee Maxwell (My Sister in Israel). The Wole Adamolekuns, still a mentor, Omoboya NYSC Mama with Mr Atilola’s (Adamu daku ma damu mi) to cover for all my Directors and staff of NYSC.  The Ondo State NYSC Drama Troupe (we need a reunion) and the Ondo State Christian Corpers Fellowship’s Musical Group amidst others are very fresh memories on the platter of my mind.  God will richly bless and remember all those who have laboured to make visitors at home, for no seemingly outward reward.

I am specially remembering my Mother, she taught me in primary one, became a Guardian during my youth corps and now the Wonderful Grand Mother of my Children, with My Father(Rest Well Daddy), he has been like a guiding light and his words echoing and re echoing especially in times of need.  The Ilemobade’s have my Eternal Gratitude for making Ondo a place I can justifiably also call home.  My Oye Lawrence, Sarki, Ayuba (army officers), Sankara, et al and the one that made me an NYSC Guitar boy, by allowing me use his guitar, the then State Police Public Relations Officer Mr Tonye Wakama, thank you again.  I am talking elections, forgive me, that is what happens when you say Ondo.

Elections in Ondo/Ekiti (then Ondo State), were never a child’s play, the relics of violence covered the state during our time, late Col Daramola, the then Chair of the Electoral Commission, told us not to worry.  Ondo people only react when pushed to the wall or when the truth is being denied them. 

As Elections draw close, you see the forming, amending and destroying of alliances, is for want of  fair play.   My prayer for this wonderful State that is the Spiritual Trigger of the Continent, is for the peaceful election of the right persons that will continue in the upgrade of Ondo to be a leading state in Nigeria and Africa. 

Forgive my selling fish (Selfish).  The Bitumen in Ondo can sufficiently make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity to Africa and the World.  The Ondo Cocoa farms, if well harnessed can make Ivory Coast a secondary exporter of the Chocolate Juice. The Igbokoda Glass factory, can halt our Chinese imports of glasses and china wares.  The best way to decongest the Lagos – Ibadan/Ore roads is the Lagos – Okitikupa water ways.   I am told that the Sapele Water & Palm Wine from the Ode-Aye Okitikupa axis, ‘fit make mallam forget say na from Zamfara e come from’.  Na one corper tell me ooh.

Seriously, Ondo State is like the Turkey of Nigeria and deserves the very best in this electioneering season.  So what have I been saying?  It is time for Ondo people to forget, Party, region or creed and vote for capable hands that can change the status of this regional power.  X-ray the candidates and avoid the Hilary/Trump saga that reminds me of the Abiola/Tofa thing.  If non of the candidates is good enough, do the Lagos thing and get the Ondo Fashola and Ambode to come out and join.  Now that global challenges are not getting any less, it is time to bring out your jokers for the days ahead.

We will not be left out, our Knees are still bent in prayers and God will hear us.  Ondo must rise to champion the development that will transcend to Oshun, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Nigeria and the Continent at large.  That is a vision I saw in 1987/88 and the time for fulfilment has just begun.  Arise my dear People at home and abroad and Lead from this your humble peaceful abode.  May we have a peaceful, free and fair elections.  God bless Nigerians and then Nigeria. 

Global Political Correctness or Error?

Taking a look at Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria, will it have been better leaving the nations unperturbed and silently follow the tenets of power change?  We all shout the need for democracy, where in the world in democracy sincerely genuine?  Agreed, it is the best form of Government.  Elections alone do not define democracy, especially when the needed structures, to sustain it, are not in place.

If you allow the people of Libya to honestly select between the relative normalcy of the Gadhafi days and now that even Libyans are running from their country in modes known for the West and Central African blacks alone, which will they vote for?

An Iraqi situation where Christian and minority tribes were slaughtered like animals and the world silently watched without uttering words for fear of reprisals and/or to be politically / diplomatic correct. I ask again, will this minorities prefer the interventions that brought Iraq to this state or the Saddam Hussein days?

Syria, Samaria, Damascus, in memory, I remember some of my class mates, leaving Amman, Saturday nights, drive to Damascus for night clubbing and return very early Sunday mornings for classes (sorry, wont mention names, if any is reading). Many more transverse those terrains for pilgrimage, study and work.  A very wonderful set of hospitable people, I may say.  Will the people have preferred a yesterday Syria with the bad ruler, than a country with lives, ancient histories, buildings, technologies and businesses destroyed and majority of the citizenry becoming refugees of no nation, as all are afraid of accepting them for fear of ISIS?

Cases without counts, we have, where interventions, even those well intended end up being hijacked by others who for long where unable because of the same persons termed evil by the interveners.  A very disappointing fact is, like Oscars Arias put it long time ago, that the weaponry used are always from the same nations preaching peace/better world.  Some are of the opinion that these nations go into their Military Laboratories / Research Facilities and Industries to create weapons of mass destruction only to come to nations of low intellect and use the leadership, their opponents as laboratory rats for their experiments.  (True or False?  I do not know.).  But ear to ear talks are common of CIA Agents gone rogue, like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

The issue of migration has now so beclouded our judgement, that it is hard to place the line between what is right / wrong.  When Black Africans were traversing the ancient Sahara Desert Trade routes to North Africa for access to Europe through especially Spain.   The world turned deaf ears to our cries for a rethink of the nuances that cause persons to leave their comfort zones for a greener pasture that is more of a mirage than reality.  The number of deaths by natural causes and the inhumane treatment by people of nations along the routes are best not mentioned.     These migrants formed villages in off the grid locations, known to uniformed Government officials for only harassments and collection of illegal dues for such illegal stays.   Transient families emerge, villages with hierarchal structures like self preservation and order.  The cost if you ask me is not worth the story.

I have waited to hear of the Global (as UN) support for the wealthy Egyptian who bought an Island for a particular group of refugees, I am still waiting.  I am also waiting to hear other wealthy Arabs follow the example, I am still waiting to hear.  With the bombings in France, Brussels, Germany and the near coup in Turkey, I am waiting for the American Government, whether Democrat or Republican that will truly open their doors for migrants in the true American Story and Spirit.

My great worry is, the merchants of war will not stop now.  With Drone technology and the Internet becoming an increasingly fearful phenomenon, the future is increasingly bleak for the average and below average persons.  African states have are not learning from the past, brothers killing brothers and neighbours destroying each other are still the norm.  The usage of religion, tribe, regions have becoming increasingly sophisticated that, even infant nations that should be learning to crawl are fine-tuning the blood letting skills on the same people they joined hands to get independence.  Something is terribly wrong, because the war lords and sponsors are in far away safe havens with their families and will be the same persons that will be called to discuss reconciliations after the poor masses without names / numbers are buried in mass or unmarked graves.  When this man’s inhumanity to man stop?

If anybody is hearing, let for once, the United Nations and Region Unions and Association call a spade a spade, by fingering the direct or remote sponsors of these conflicts and let them face the peoples’ court.  The creators of these killing machines be made accountable for there safe keep / misuse.   The rulers of regions and their security be called to face their ability or otherwise to do the right thing at the right time.  Inter / Intra National peer reviews to include possible sanctions on persons and not innocent citizens.  Southern Sudan must not be allowed to go inflames again.

If something is not done fast, I see a time when everybody will arm him/herself for defence against their neighbours and system.  Then the chaotic situation you now see will be a child’s play.  Because computer games will be played live in our neighbourhoods, schools, places of worship and homes.   A global survival reality show will not a beautiful story, a stitch in time saves more than nine.